As she sat across from me, I couldn’t help but notice how incredibly flawless her skin was. Blemish-free, wrinkle-free, completely even, and glowing. Skincare expert Ada Ooi obviously knew what she was talking about.
“Skincare and fragrances have always been my thing. Even during my teenage years, all my classmates would go to Paperchase and Hallmark to buy colourful pens and pencils, but I would go to SaSa (a popular beauty and health store in Asia) and browse the counters for various cosmetic products,” Ada tells me, reminiscent of her childhood in Hong Kong, before moving to London permanently.
But despite working in advertising for over 10 years, the desire to do something closer to her passions grew stronger day by day. So Ada trained herself to be an aromatherapist and facialist, before launching 001 in 2014 – the skincare brand that’s taking London’s beauty scene by storm, even attracting the attention of a number of celebrities and royalties.
A reflection of her own needs and real life experiences, inspired by London’s culture and heritage, 001 is designed for busy cosmopolitan adults, women in particular, who juggle work, responsibilities and home life. Ada quickly realised the need to protect herself from the crazies of today.
“When I started working as an aromatherapist, I couldn’t find a range that fit all skin types, skin colours, ethnicities and skin conditions I was catering to. So I had to make my own potions to address all these, and to just create a little space of my own through which I could pamper myself,” she says, telling me that 001 was all about battling stress, pollution and hectic schedules in the most natural and artisanal way possible.
But the brand goes much further than just tending to the skin.
“It’s for the whole wellbeing. We want to give a 360-degree experience which goes beyond just skincare. It’s about the smells, the textures, the indulgence and experience which can enhance the whole routine. This makes your brain happy, which balances your hormone levels, and in turn makes your skin happy as well.”
The brand marries Asian apothecary ingredients with Western cleansing practices to formulate potions that provide the best results for each skin type. To name but a few examples inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, Ada uses green tea to enrich the skin with antioxidants, which also cools and calms the body, and gingko extracts to stimulate blood circulation. But despite following Japanese rituals of layering and mixing ingredients to cleanse the skin, the key is to not go overboard with anything.
“I don’t over cleanse. I know there’s an obsession with exfoliation these days, and I find that there are people who exfoliate everyday! But for me, it’s always been a once-a-week habit. I find that it’s far more gentle on the skin, and I like to preserve the skin’s natural sebum which seals and protects the epidermis,” she says, telling me that over-exfoliating often leads to cystic acne as a result of the skin’s natural oils being continuously stripped away.
With rituals focusing on cleansing and hydration, complemented by serums and creams to really lock in moisture and heal the skin from within, 001 products quench the skin of its lost goodness one gentle massage and wash at a time. Bestsellers like the Pure Active Peel and the Exfoliating & Conditioning Cleanser work miracles in clearing away dead skin cells whilst also moisturising, only to reveal baby-soft skin to shine through for the ultimate youthful glow.
But the star of 001’s show is the highly coveted Eyecicle.
“There aren’t a lot of gadgets in the market that target the eyes. I wanted a product that works, and one that is also very convenient to use,” Ada explains, telling me about her entire basket full of clunky, often uncharged, devices that offer very few results.
The beauty of the Eyecicle, therefore, lies in its simplicity; merely leave it to cool in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes before use (or just store it in the refrigerator at all times!), apply some of the eye concentrate that comes as part of the kit, and roll around the device to see an improvement in the quality and look of the sensitive skin around the eyes.
How does it work? It’s nothing too complicated. “The science behind it is that it’s just stimulating our body’s instinctive reactions,” she says, explaining that when the skin is in contact with anything that is under 29 degrees Celsius, blood rushes to the area to compensate for heat loss and to restore the skin to it’s optimal functioning state. The stimulated blood flow means more oxygen reaching the compressed capillaries under the weak eye muscles, which in turns increases the amount of nutrition, which finally provides the ultimate detoxification by draining the toxins away.
“Immediately. If you have dark circles, wrinkles and eye bags, they will go away immediately. You can compare one eye to the other, and you will definitely see a difference.”
Backed by academic research and customer feedback, armed with the power of natural, gorgeous essential oils and minimal tested safe synthetics (and with a few new products in the pipeline looking to target skin conditions specifically relating to pigmentation), 001 promises to become a household staple for all things beauty.
“We’re all about creating classic, iconic products that work. There’s no compromise on that. Nothing is unsolvable and there’s always a solution,” states Ada, determined to continue creating products to improve our sleep, and thus the quality of our lifestyles.
With the recommendation that we keep warm and cosy as we fall asleep, topped with notes of essential oils to really create a calming mood, the trick is to just release tension by taking a step back and relaxing as much as possible.
“We’re all babies, and we deserve to be pampered!”